It may look like just another high-quality German equatorial mount from the outside, but a peak inside Astro Systeme Austria’s DDM85 (U.S. price: about $18,000) is like glimpsing the future. DDM stands for direct-drive mount. There are no gears — the mount’s axes themselves are an integral part of the drive motors. In addition to doing away with common problems such as periodic error associated with worm-gear drives, a direct-drive mount can immediately correct unpredictable tracking errors caused by, say, wind gusts. Direct-drive systems are found in some of today’s most advanced professional telescopes, but this is the first time one is being offered in a commercial mount. The DDM85 can carry 65 kilograms (140 pounds) of equipment, and the company is planning to introduce smaller and larger versions in the near future.
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